“Do not be afraid, I am here with you”

As we journey together through the solemn days of Lent, the Alliance for Catholic Education and ThinkND invite you to join us as we walk toward the light that our faith tells us lies ahead.

Join us for Grace Period, a weekly series of audio reflections by Fr. Lou DelFra, C.S.C. ’92, M. Div. ’03, designed to meet your busy schedule and help you pause, listen for God’s voice in your life, and begin anew.

Fr. Lou exchanges Noah’s ark for a fishing boat and the New Testament story of Jesus and the disciples in the storm.

Just as the disciples were overcome with fear in the middle of the storm, we too have shouldered fear and uncertainty in our times.

This week, take some time to reflect on the role that fear has played in your life this year. Then allow yourself to be taken in by Christ’s response to the disciples: “Do not be afraid, I am here with you,” and continue to live in hope.

Hi. I’m Fr. Lou DelFra,
Director of Pastoral Life for the Alliance for Catholic Education
at the University of Notre Dame.

Welcome to Grace Period,
a weekly series of audio reflections designed for you…

to help you pause,
in the midst of the stresses of these days,
listen for God’s voice in your lives,
and begin anew.


In our first two weeks, we entered the story of Noah,
to open ourselves, like he did, to the gift of hope.

This week, let’s challenge ourselves to go a step farther.
If we possess the gift of hope (and we do, not through Noah’s flood, but through the waters of our baptism),
then we teach, lead, and live differently.
What might such a life look like?

To answer, let’s move to the New Testament, and exchange our ark for a fishing boat, and enter an equally beloved story,
Though one, unfortunately, where we find ourselves again caught in a storm:
It’s the story of Jesus and Peter, walking on the water.

The passage opens with a seemingly innocent sentence:
“Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and head to the other side.”
This makes me think of the beginning of each school year.

Towards the end of every summer, we have that moment, where the reality hits us:
a new school year is about to begin.
And just then, we’re on the shore at the beginning of this Gospel, and the 1st sentence becomes our story:
“And Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and try to head to the other side.”

The sea is the school year, and the boat is our school, and the other side is June.
But the journey…. Well, we know, every year, there will be some unanticipated squalls out there,
which this year included a global pandemic!
Noah’s flood again.

And do you remember the disciples’ 1st words in this story – caught in the storm? “It’s a ghost!”
Part of what constitutes a crisis is its uncertainty.
If we knew, for example, exactly which students would test positive with COVID, which days they would miss, what days would be online, and most importantly, when this would all end,
The pandemic would still be a total pain, but we’d be able to map out our response.
Instead, the pandemic’s a bit like a ghost, in that we don’t how it’s going to impact us on any given day.
This uncertainty is part of every crisis.

And uncertainty always has one sure consequence, the same consequence that comes from seeing a ghost: FEAR.
And, sure enough, this is the disciples’ first reaction,
As the Gospel states it, starkly: “they were terrified!”

What role has fear played in our pandemic year so far?
Sometime this week, just take a moment to reflect:
“As this year has unfolded, some of the things I have been afraid of are: ___________”

But it’s important now to keep reading the Gospel!
And allow ourselves to be taken in by Jesus’ first words when he meets us in the storm.
“Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!”

Notice what Jesus does not say:
Unfortunately, he does not say to our fears, “I guarantee that won’t happen.”
Or “I will never allow that.”

But what he does say turns out to be all we need:
“I am here with you. Difficult things may come our way. Do not be afraid. I am here with you, so let’s live in hope.”

Tune in next week, as we ask with Peter: how do we embody this hope,
when we ourselves can’t calm the storm?

Religion and PhilosophyAlliance for Catholic EducationGrace PeriodLentNew testamentNoah's ArkPrayerSt. PeterUniversity of Notre Dame

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